Rockets aim to roll through regional
Richmond-Burton coach Chris Wagner could see the makings of a good season from the start of the Rockets’ season in February.
“There was lots of crisp passing and lots and lots of talking,” Wagner said. “From the first or second practice you could see it beginning.”
But even Wagner may not have imagined the immense success that the Rockets (17-2-2) have achieved this year. R-B captured the school’s first outright Big Northern Conference East Division championship and earned the No. 1 seed in the IHSA Class 1A North Chicago Regional.
R-B returned only three starters from last year’s team, but a talented group of freshmen fit in from the start. Freshman forward Amanda Hoglund has scored 37 goals and has 12 assists for the Rockets while Jessica Guenther has added 11 goals and nine assists. The two have helped R-B outscore its opponents, 87-14, this season.
“She is one of the fastest girls I’ve seen on a field,” Wagner said of Hoglund. “She gets the reputation for being all speed, but there is a desire there as well that she wants to score.”
Wagner had to reconstruct a defense that lost all four starters from last year and he did it by taking several players out of their normal positions and plugging them into the back line.
Senior Savannah Schinto, freshman Lauren Otto, junior Kendall Winkler, and sophomore Cassie Owen have helped the Rockets allow only seven goals in their past 17 games.
Sophomore Hannah Koenig, who had a small amount of experience in goal for her club team, has developed into R-B’s starting keeper after playing midfield for the Rockets last season.
“None of them really played together until this year,” Wagner said of his defense. “We told them this is what we think is best for the team, and they have gelled and bought into it.”
R-B played in the Class 2A playoffs last season, losing to Lakes in triple overtime of the regional final. Dropping down a class should help the Rockets, but Wagner said they will deal with some unfamiliar teams in the regionals.
“We haven’t played any of these schools, so we don’t know much about them,” Wagner said. “If we play our game and work on what we need to do well, we’ll get good results.
Marengo (7-12) joins R-B as a No. 1 seed, earning the top spot in the Class 1A Marengo Regional. Harvard (2-17-1) is the No. 3 seed in Marengo’s regional while Johnsburg (3-10) is the No. 3 seed in R-B’s regional.
The Indians had to overcome numerous injuries this season, but were still able to take third in conference. Sophomore Mikaela Broling hasn’t been able to play all season because of a concussion, but coach Jim McKinnon is hopeful that his team will be mostly healthful throughout the playoffs.
“Usually getting through your regional is the worst,” McKinnon said. “Once you get through the regional, crazy things happen in the sectionals and supersectionals.